Pakistan Says Cross-Border Indian Fire Kills 11 Civilians

SOURCEVOA

BELGRADE – Pakistan says cross-border firing by India Wednesday killed at least 11 civilians and three soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region.

The military claimed retaliatory fire by Pakistani troops also killed at least seven Indian soldiers. But it did not cite sources for giving the toll for the other side and India has not yet responded to the claims.

The Pakistani civilian casualties occurred in the Neelam Valley near the Line of Control, or LoC, which divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.

Officials said that the Indian fire struck a passenger bus and the death toll was likely to increase.

Pakistan military’s media wing alleged Indian troops also targeted an ambulance that was sent for evacuation. Residents in Neelam told VOA they were forced to flee to take refuge in bunkers around their villages shortly after the early morning clashes erupted.

The latest skirmishes came a day after the Indian Army vowed retribution for killing three of its soldiers by Pakistani troops across the de facto Kashmir border.

One of the bodies had been allegedly mutilated, charges Pakistani military officials rejected as “a fabrication.”

Indian army officials have not yet commented on the bus attack but confirmed ceasefire violations by Pakistan “all along the Line of Control” in Kashmir.

Both countries have been routinely trading fire in Kashmir in recent months, rendering a 2003 mutual ceasefire understanding ineffective.

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